The Supreme Court hearings this week have sparked much discussion about which side of history people fall on. There is a general assumption that same-sex marriage in America is inevitable and that supporters are "right" and that opponents are on the "wrong side of history." The debate is "over," according to many pundits. Marriage equality, they tell us, is going to happen, and we just have to let time pass to see it all pan out. Fifty years from now, the logic goes, people will look back at this time and this issue and will wonder what all the fuss was about. Fifty years from now same-sex couples will be as common as the air we breathe. Right?
Well, 50 years from now I will be 98. I do not want to be a 98-year-old blushing bride. So here's my message to the Supreme Court: I am not getting any younger, and I am impatient.
Can you blame me? My gay friends in other states are getting married. Hell, I even officiated at one of those weddings in New York. We are all Americans, my friends and I, yet I feel punished somehow because I live in Pennsylvania, a state with no provisions for same-sex couples. How are we equal under the eyes of the law when my out-of-state friends have rights I do not have? I feel like those nuns in the Sound of Music. They helped Maria get gorgeous for her own wedding and then were forced to stand behind giant metal gates at the back of the church, barred from attending the actual ceremony. (OK, OK, not the greatest metaphor. Please forgive me. I am a drama fag who is fluent in movie musical.)
Justice Samuel Alito seems to think that our desire to legitimize gay relationships is a newfangled societal whim. He said as much at Tuesday's hearing: "[Y]ou want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cellphones or the Internet? I mean, we... we are not... we do not have the ability to see the future." Just because it has come into your consciousness recently does not mean that gay couples have not wanted to live openly and have not wanted legitimate, sanctioned relationships for many years. I have been in a committed, monogamous partnership for almost 18 years, and I have been gay for 48. Please do not diminish my experience by comparing me to a cellphone.
Perhaps Justice Alito can be forgiven. He also said that "[t]raditional marriage has been around for thousands of years." By "traditional" he means a union between one man and one woman. He seems to ignore the many permutations of "marriage" that have entered in and out of society for thousands of years. Remember the Bible? Lots of "one man and multiple women" examples there. So maybe we should give Alito a pass on this one because, after all, he is ignorant.
No, on second thought, I am angry that seemingly intelligent people like the justices of the United States Supreme Court can spout such tired, false, conservative rhetoric that holds no basis in fact and lacks compassion. It is galling that someone like Justice Antonin Scalia, a man who holds my fate and my happiness in his hands, can get away with judicial opinions like this in the modern era: "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive." He has also grouped murder and polygamy along with "homosexual conduct." This man's conservative Catholic views are clouding his legal judgment. How is this permissible? My right to happiness is being blocked by the very people whose job it is to protect my right to happiness.
So I will not be picking out china patterns anytime soon. I grew up assuming I would never marry because I am gay. I am now being told that my ability to marry my partner is within my grasp. But until all our Supreme Court justices are smart enough and fair enough to ignore prejudice, I will temper my excitement, grit my teeth,and try my best to be patient.